“It is personal end even deadly to people like me,” the cable host said to his colleague Chris Cuomo on Tuesday night.
Frustrated that Trump’s blatant acceptance of discriminatory attitudes wasn’t enough to make his voters think twice before casting their ballots, Lemon cautioned that “what we ignore, we empower.”
“This president has said and done so many insensitive and bigoted and racist things that if you support him, people like me want to understand why you ignored so much in order to support this man,” he said. “You may not think you are a racist ... but you certainly had to overlook racism and bigotry in order to make that decision.”
On his own broadcast earlier that evening, Cuomo told former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a contributor on the network, that he has “so many people” in his life who voted for and support Trump, yet “they’re not bigots” and “they don’t believe in what Steve King says.”
Lemon didn’t appear to be satisfied with Cuomo’s defense of his friends, expressing outrage over their ability to justify their alignment with Trump.
“Now even after all of this, if you still in your mind can support this person, why the hell are you overlooking racism so much?” he asked of the president’s supporters.
Controversy over King was sparked last week when he asked in a New York Times interview why terms like “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” were offensive.
In a press conference Monday, Trump claimed to not have been following the nation’s shock over King’s words, but Cuomo wasn’t buying that.
Responding to Lemon’s remarks, he pointed out that the president “consumes media like this compulsively.”
“He knows,” Cuomo said. “That’s BS. It’s an excuse. He’s ducking it. Don’t let him. If you support the president, you should want him to come out on this, because it will give you the cover you want. To say: ‘I don’t support a bigot. He’s not a bigot.’ Then where is he right now?”